Proud new owner of a Killman Customs Independent Buildhouse Bobber: Alison Alexander
You get a lot of interesting offers doing what we do. Folks needing repairs, wanting to sell bikes, wanting us to sell their stuff, wanting us to attend their events, etc. Occasionally though, something comes down the pipe that needs a little closer consideration. A while back Richard, a good friend of Killman Customs, put us in touch with a friend of his that needed some help. Enter Ali and her broken ’94 VT600CD Honda Shadow...
Now normally we don’t wrench on anything after ’85. We try to stick to that but, every once in a blue moon, a friend of a friend thing pops up involving something interesting and we’ll lend a hand. Ali had herself a very sick motorcycle, limited funds, and a compelling story.
She told us that it was her first bike and she’d ridden it until her ex-boyfriend had talked her into chopping off the back end. The fellow appeared to have been exuberant, but perhaps lacking a tape measure. Now a ’94 Shadow isn’t something we’d normally get into a lather about modding, pretty much the definition of a McBike and, with limited funds and the scope of the work that needed doing, the smart thing to do was to turn down the project. This thing was in SUCH crap shape! It was her first ride though, and well… we wanted to see what we could do to make things a lot more awesome.
So, we took a little time and we thunk up a deal. Ali would pony up what she could afford, which should just about cover parts, and we’d do the necessaries. Which admittedly would come to a lot of bucks worth of unpaid work. Well more than the cost of the parts. But wait, here comes the cool part. Talking to Ali we discovered a charming, funky and just plain badass chick that needed a hand. She had a great attitude, was smart and well spoken, and pretty much fit the bill of what we’d be looking for if we were going to hire a rep of some sort. We weren’t looking for a rep particularly, but we figured what the Hell, maybe we could all do each other some good.
Now with this being her first bike, there were some obvious priorities. Reliability and user friendliness were tippy-top of the list. A new rider can’t be worrying about whether or not things will start and stop when they need to after all. That’s just a recipe for very pretty road pizza. Once we fished it out from behind the bush in the backyard and got it back to the shop, we quickly realized what we had let ourselves in for. An epically failed tank liner was just the tip of the iceberg.
The budget for sexy bits took a serious beating from the make-it-go side of the equation. Consumables were all in a hurting way. Tires, chain and sprockets, brake pads, clutch springs, etc., the straight-up repair and maintenance costs were considerable. Okay, fine then, just meant we’d have to get creative with what was left over for the cosmetic side of things.
Shinko 777 Whitewall tires added a heady dose of clean elegance and titanium wrapped pipes with an additional slotted heat shield laid on a bit of additional charm. A gold D.I.D xring chain and new JT carbon steel sprockets made it so she’d have the looks as well as the vroom and we added a Galfer stainless steel braided brake line and Motion Pro clutch cable to help ensure things come to a stop when needed. Some sweet Stainless Steel Allen fasteners for the engine covers are going to make future life easier and a return to the stock airbox config, but with a shiny new chrome cover, took care of some reliability issues she was experiencing with her existing pods. A new ignition, gas cap and steering lock means she's able to use one key for the whole bike. The machined reaper cutout for the radiator was strictly for shits and giggles.
Ali had mentioned that she was a fan of bare metal, which was awesome, but we’ve done steel tanks and bodywork before and wanted something special for her. Copper plating the front fender and tank was the obvious choice. We offer buffing and polishing services in house so, even with the rough spots and mess of the raw copper plating, bringing the tank and front fender to a beautiful copper rose finish was as natural as breathing. Absolutely gorgeous. what we have now is a clean and tough, yet feminine build, that shows off those sleek bobber lines. In the spirit of "because we can" however, we already have some additional make-it-even-prettier work lined up for her soon, so stay tuned!
Our first show with Ali was coming up and we knew that recording the reveal was a must, but would be complicated with all the hustle at an event, so we sneakily enlisted the videography services of the amazing Levi Hildebrand, (seriously, look this guy up, he's a dream to work with) and kidnaped Ali to the top of Mount Tolmie for the reveal a couple of days before we were due to leave. As you can see in the video, it turned out pretty fine. Every time I watch that thing I get sumpthin in my eye.
We made sure to fully kit her out for her coming adventures with our Canvas Shoulder duffle bag, filled with one of each of our Womens tanks, tees and rally dresses, a Kustom Baja Hoodie, and a Stars and Stripes Shemagh. A black canvas La Rosa frame rail bag with brown leather accents also went with the copper and black of the build beautifully. We made sure to stash a new disk lock and one of our cargo nets in there and the back up fuel bottle was a nice added bonus. She’s also got a Pink Lady Skull Guardian Bell and Bell Hanger, the bandana from the shoot and the nickel I used to adjust the free play in her clutch for luck. Add in a dead sexy purple Diamond Saddle Roll blanket with one of our leather blanket carrier straps, and she’s definitely ready now for whatever trouble she can find.